I've seen it three times already, and I think tomorrow will be my fourth. Yes, it is that fun, that good, that witty and that spectacular. If you want to AVOID SPOILERS, stop reading now. You were warned.
And may I say, as a Christian who LOVES spiritual metaphor in films, seeing Christ-friendliness in movies that are definitely NOT 'family-friendly' [cf. Magnolia, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, etc.] is a real joy. Marvel's The Avengers NAILED some timeless Christian truths with a dead-on bullseye.
[Please forgive me if I rant and drool and slosh my Coke on the screen, but I waited 35+ years to see this movie and it was DAAAAAYYYYYYUUUUMMMM worth the wait. We Bible-teachers can say 'Damn' and 'Hell' but only in proper context. So, DAAAAAAYYYUUUMM! will have to do!]
Why Was It So Good, Reverend Geek?
It had a crisp plot, awesome villain, witty and thoughtful dialogue, not a word or scene was wasted, exciting CGI effects that kept you engaged IN the story and most of all, a Message that resonates with Christians who fight among themselves even as they try to fight a Greater Evil that uses deceit and illusory tactics to rule the world.
Captain America, Compassionate Conservative and His Theology
It is SO easy to mock a position we do not like and create a straw man to abuse. When the notoriously liberal-minded Tony Stark and soldier-out-of-time Steve Rogers trade verbal blows, I was struck how understandably wrong Cap was about Tony - in other words, I KNEW Cap was wrong, but I could see why it upset him. I could see why Tony did not like nor appreciate the judgmental attitude of this older man from a more conservative time - but what was smokin' hot was how fast they agreed when a threat appeared. And how do you handle demi-gods who were worshiped in ages past? When they can blow you apart or take over your mind with a touch?
You face them down; they are not the real God of gods. Immortal? Possibly. Powerful? Certainly. But to be worshiped? Not on your life.
Marvel Comics has always been pretty good at this, treating the 'ancient gods' as powerful beings of myths and folklore as denizens of other realms and higher civilizations. Problem is, many unbelievers want to denigrate the Real God and the Real Savior to those roles, and that folks is just plain wrong - and frankly, childish.
But how do you sum up all that in two lines of dialogue? Without being preachy or smug?
Joss Whedon showed us how. That's right: a self-described "angry, hard-line atheist" wrote some of the best God-honoring dialogue.
The scene: After an amazing lightning blast lights up the sky, Thor, god of thunder, lands on top of the SHIELD Quinjet, and bursts in to reclaim the villainous Loki from the custody of Captain America and Iron Man. One smack to Iron Man and Thor is out the door with his brother. Iron Man rockets out the back to recover Loki, and Cap decides he must follow. Grabbing a parachute and strapping it on, he's about to exit the aircraft when our pilot, the Black Widow shouts, "Cap! You don't want to go after them! They're the myths - the gods of legend!"
Then he jumps out of the plane with his shield slicing the air in front of him.
In the dark.
At umpteen thousand feet.
I and a few others shouted "AMEN!" at the screen. The rest laughed or applauded.
But THAT scene summed up true faith -and the TRUST and DEVOTION that God digs. Men who believe and act heroically in full trust upon Him.
"I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
Well, why should we? They all suck except Him [sorry, Thor!]. Way to go, Cap.
Kudos, Joss Whedon! You did a good job, even if you do not believe.
More observations on the next blog. But for now, I have to go home and practice jumping off the couch with my custom-made Captain America shield for the next few hours.
Call it my geeky fan-boy devotional. ;)